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The Southgate Christian Fellowship

SCF What About



Going to church?

Why the Church?

Why do we need the church? Why can't we just get on with our Christian lives, individually loving and serving God as members of his Kingdom?

The answer to this is simple - we need each other.

Becoming a Christian and becoming a member of the church are inseparably linked together in the Bible. The New Testament teaches that it is God's will that every believer should belong to a local church where they can be loved, taught and cared for; where they are able to grow to spiritual maturity as a child of God; and where they can play their part as an active member of the Body of Christ in reaching out to others.


What is the Church?

Well, it's not buildings or an institution. It's people, people who have been 'born again' into God's family through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The word church in the Bible is used in two senses.

It's used to describe the 'Universal Church'. This refers to every Christian that's ever lived since the time of Jesus until he comes again.

Then there's the 'Local Church'. This is a group of Christians brought together by God at a particular time in history, and meeting in a given locality like ourselves here at Southgate.

Every Christian belongs to the Universal Church, and many wonderful truths are unfolded in the Bible regarding this (e.g. Hebrews 12:22-23). The main thrust of the New Testament's teaching, however, applies to the Local Church, and indeed can only be applied in this context.


Going to Church

You may have many ideas as to what is involved in 'going to church', but the best picture of church life, and the one we seek to follow, is that found in the Book of Acts. In Acts 2:41-47, we read this:

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number (to the church) that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2).

These verses present a picture of church life that is very exciting and fulfilling. In this leaflet we will restrict ourselves to looking at what are called the four 'foundation stones' of church life mentioned in verse 42: They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


1: The Apostles Teaching

Not only do we need to read the Bible ourselves but we need to be taught from God's Word. This is one of the reasons we need to go to church where God's Word is taught.

It is the responsibility of the church leaders to lay a foundation of Biblical truth so that we become mature Christians (see Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:12-16).

Our individual responsibility is to hear and receive God's Word, not as coming from man, but from God (see 1Thessalonians 2:13), and then act on it (James 1:22).


2: Fellowship

Fellowship is a bit like friendship, it's interaction between people. But, unlike friendship which is limited to certain people, Christians can have immediate fellowship together, even if they're complete strangers, because our fellowship is sharing together our oneness in Jesus.

Fellowship, first and foremost therefore, is sharing together the divine nature of God (see Romans 8:29; 2 Peter 1:4), and as we meet together we share together in the life of heaven here on earth (see 1Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:18-20). Then, fellowship can also be by way of sharing through friendship or practical help (see Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37).


3: Holy Communion

The word 'communion' means sharing, just like 'fellowship'. But the word 'communion' means an intimate sharing of one person to another. It's a time of intimacy with Jesus and the members of his church. See the leaflet 'What about the Holy Communion'.


4: Prayers

Each Christian must develop their own prayer life, and the church must pray too. The church prayer meeting has been described as the 'power house' of the church. God wants his church to pray together in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to defeat the works of the devil and change situations and events. There is greater power and authority in prayer when two or more people pray together (see Matthew 18:19-20).


Love One Another

We have looked at the four foundation stones of life together in the church, and it is the love of God that cements things together. It's where the love of God is present that there is a willing and wholehearted giving and receiving, without which God's life can't flow. Jesus said "love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). St. John says, this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1John 3:16).


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